Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Let them eat cake

When dealer galleries raised their commissions from 33 and 1/3 percent to 40 percent, it didn’t spell the end of the line for dealers, artists or collectors. Later, when the auction houses went for buyer and seller premiums, sales went up not down. But suggest that artists get a share of the spoil and all hell breaks loose. Suddenly it is all our duties to protect market forces and predictions of doom are rife if we don’t.

So what really happens when a percentage of resale is given back to artists?

This from artnet: “Britain’s new resale royalty law, which grants living artists a portion of the proceeds when their artworks are resold by art dealers or auction houses, turns one year old on Feb. 14, 2007. Opponents of the measure, which was prompted by British participation in the European Economic Union, feared that the new tax -- also known by its French name, droit de suite -- would damage the country’s art market and drive business to the U.S. and Switzerland. Has that been the case?

“Au contraire. London’s contemporary art business is stronger than ever. ‘Sales have been as healthy as they were before the law came into effect,’ said Glenn Scott-Wright, director of London’s Victoria Miro Gallery. ‘Clients haven’t indicated that they were unwilling to buy because of the royalty. In fact, there hasn’t really been much discussion of the law at all.’

“British auctioneers have reported similar results. Pilar Ordovas, head of Christie’s contemporary art department in London, stated that 2006 brought ‘the best sales ever in contemporary art in our history.’ As far as paying royalties on sales, she said, ‘Nobody seems to be concerned.’”
Thanks to Russell Brown for pointing to this response.